Who Said He Could Change?

For more than 20 years my husband and I have been together.  I was looking back and thinking… Who changed in this relationship?

We were both in our mid twenties when we decided to get married, start a business and raise kids together!  What were we thinking?

When we met he had just finished up active duty in the Marines and was just beginning his four years of active reserve.  He had a good body (of course that is my opinion) because he stayed fit in the Marines.  His arms were built well because he lifted a few weights here and there.  His body over all was a bit lanky and he wore black rimmed bc glassed. (bc = birth control)  Let’s just say he had a few nerdly qualities about him!

Me on the other hand, I was hot! (Again, my opinion) I was in the police academy, working out and being fit!  I had to get over that 6′ wall an all!  My attitude was hard core and I could match wits with some of the best nerds I knew!

Somewhere along the way he changed!  How could he?  I mean I married this man with a specific look and attitude about him!

Over the past twenty plus years, he has changed his glasses and then had eye surgery so he does not even wear glasses!  Who said he could do that?  Oh, yea that was me!

His body has change too!  This skinny lanky guy who had a size 30 waist is somewhere around a 36 now!  Where did those hot arms that used to wrap around me go?  The ones I used to grab hold of and think he could protect me against any force that would challenge me!  Okay let’s be clear on this, I did not give him permission to change in this area!

Even his nerdy qualities have changed!  Well mostly, from being the nerd to the Mr. Knows a Lot!  There is just a bit of difference between the two! One just knows and the other has a bit of ego behind it!

I have watched this transition over the years without paying much attention to it until I suddenly realized he is no longer the man I originally married!  How could he?  Who said this was okay in marriage?  What was God thinking when he allowed our bodies, ideas and attitudes to change over time?  I think I will throw a temper tantrum until he returns to his original state!!!!

Oh, like that will ever happen!

I have also noticed in this awareness, that in spite of the above changes he has made many other changes too!  He loves me better now than he ever did when we were first married.  We not only love each other, but we respect each other in ways that our young naivety could never imagine.  I still trust him with my life and know that even though his arms are not long built to look like he could protect me, his heart would be more powerful than his arms could ever have been.

He has changed throughout the years to be a better father than who he was in our younger years.  He is a great leader in business and works hard to continue to educate himself to keep his nerdly qualities intact.  I occasionally ask him to show me his arms and I still woo over how they are. (don’t tell him I am remembering them from twenty plus years ago.)  When his arms are wrapped around me and I feel his touch it is as if we were made specifically for each other.

Somehow through the years he has changed.  Some things for the good, some for the not so good, some things to bring out the best in us both!  We have not always like the changes in each other and yet those changes have actually gotten is to grow and become the people we are today.  I am not always very receptive to change!  Yet, when I can look back and see the benefits that the changes bring about in the long run change was worth it.  Expect your spouse to change!  They will never again be the person you married and neither will you.  We are all destined to change.  We can be mad about it or we can work together to make sure the change is a benefit for all involved.  I know that my husband will never be the man he once was, but the man he has become is so much more worth the love I now have for him.

Before you judge your spouse for the changing that takes place with marriage look closely at the benefits those changes can have too.  Oh, and even though I hate to admit it…. I have changed too.  I think overall for the better, with a couple bad habits added in to keep him on his toes!  :o)

Gift From My Husband

You know those times when you feel like you have been heard over the years and when it happens you get a warm fuzzy feeling inside?  Well if you get those often then wonderful!  I do not get them often in my relationship with my husband.  Not to say that I do not often feel heard.  It is just I am not normally the warm and fuzzy feeling kind of gal.  I have to really pay attention to find those warm and fuzzy moments.

I watch romantic movies and read soft romance books.  I do this to remind myself what romance looks like at some level.  I have to get tips, hints and ideas from mentors, books, movies to keep me in line with being a romantic wife.  For so many years I expected my husband to be romantic but I did not even really know what romance looked like.  What I thought was romantic when I was young ended up with some harsh memories from my short weeding to my ex-husband.  All my ideas of romance got kicked out the window.

I am so much better now at spotting romance and being romantic than I was for many years.  I do believe romance is important in marriage.  I mean who wants to sit in idle in marriage and have a feeling of stagnant energy in marriage?  Not me!  My husband posted on my Facebook page “The Top 10 Reasons I Love You”.  I have done this to him many times.  I have posted some of my reasons for loving him on this blog.  Here is my husbands top 10 for me.

The top 10 reasons that I love you:

1. Because you are a passionate person – You love deeply and fiercely.
2. You are a caring person – You often care more about others than they care about themselves.
3. You’re an AMAZING mother – You take the time necessary to learn all you can about raising children and to ensure that they always get treated best based on their own unique personality & needs.
4. Your sexy body!
5. WOW! You are such a good cook!
6. You’re a great wife – You take care of me and are incredibly tolerant of my quirks & annoying ways.
7. You have solid values – You’ve taken the time to hone your personal values and you hold to them rigorously.
8. You are intelligent – You love to learn and are always a student. You can solve complex problems in a way that best serves all parties and can manage a respectable amount of information inside of that small head of yours.
9. You are tolerant and peaceful – You enjoy harmony and bring peace wherever you go.
10. You are courageous – You are not afraid to try new things and challenge your own beliefs.

I mentioned earlier about the warm fuzzy feelings this caused.  You see it seems my husband has hit some very deep connections to why we are still married right here in this list.

He sees me through the tough exterior, the facade I put up to keep others from getting to close in my life.  He sees past the logic in me and hits right to my heart in how he sees me.  No one else in the world can see all of what he sees in me.  I did point out to him that I thought he might need to get his eyes checked on number six and yet he reassures me that he sees just fine.  I also pointed out to him that number ten is a little flawed in that I am afraid to try new things it is just that I will try anyway to continue to challenge who I think I am and what I think my limits are.

I have to give him credit for making this a public declaration and beyond that I want to acknowledge him for seeing past me and truly seeing into my heart.  Well played my dear!  This was the most inexpensive gift he presented me with, yet one of the most loving gifts he could ever offer to me.

What do you see deeply about your spouse?  Have you shared these with them?  What have you missed from being busy and not focusing on them?  Just some thoughts to get you to notice your spouses heart at a deeper level.

Celebrate Love Today

Today is Valentine’s Day so lets talk about what that means to you.

Are you the kind of person who thinks Valentine’s Day is just a bunch of hoowie? Just a way for consumers to spend money and retail is the big winner?

Maybe you are the type that really enjoys Valentine’s Day and all the gifts that could come with it.  Romantic dinner, flowers and candy!  Go ahead honey go all out for me kind of day.  One of the few times your spouse really puts some effort into romancing you.

Do you dread Valentine’s Day because it puts a lot of pressure on you to be more than you normally are?  You feel you have to do something or your spouse will be upset, but really you wish it would go away because you do not seem to live up to the expectations of your spouse.

When we were first married, we did not have money to get gifts for each other.  I am a gift loving romantic.  My husband is not.  I was lucky to get a card and that might have been all for many years.  We were so busy trying to build our business that we really did not have time for Valentine’s Day.  He was working in the evenings and I was working during the day so it was almost like “never the two shall meet” kind of life for a while.

One solution we had to this is we would celebrate Valentine’s Day every four years on Leap Day.  Every Feb. 29th we took time off and scheduled a date with each other.  The first one was a picnic lunch and then we went to the movies.  Then we went thirty minutes out of town for dinner and spent the night at a hotel.  On Valentine’s Day we gave each other cards and move on to a regular day.

Nowadays, we do both.  I don’t need $50 – $100 flowers to feel special so he goes to Costco and picks up a $20 – $25 bouquet.  We have cards and most of the time he gives me a gift from one of my favorite stores.  I used to get him gifts too but throughout the years I have learned that he either returns my gift or doesn’t really find value in it.  He is not a gift man, he is an acts of service man.  So if I take his truck to get washed and detailed then he really appreciates that. If I make his favorite dessert or give him a gift certificate for someplace he likes to go to and have an adventure then he is good.

~In case you have not read Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages I would recommend that you get it and you and your spouse read it together.  Or it is on audio so you can listen to it together.

~If you are looking for some quick, easy and inexpensive ways to date your spouse go back to my posting “21 Inexpensive Dates” to get some ideas.

Like I said I am the one who likes the romance.  I have dream dates that will likely never happen.  Like my husband arriving at the office in a limousine, dressed in a tuxedo with the bouquet of flowers to whisk me off on a romantic getaway.  My luggage is packed with a beautiful new dress that is perfect for me and of course the cutest shoes and handbag to match.  He has handled all the necessary issues with kids, pets and work and we leave our cell phones off and we take time off to just enjoy each other.

Who wants this for themselves too?

What is your dream date look like with your spouse?

The main reason we choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day is because in marriage it is easy to get stuck in our same old comfortable routine.  Every holiday/event day should be celebrated so that you commit to take the time away from the regular and step into discovering more ways to have fun with your spouse.  It does not have to cost you money, it will however cost you time.

Learn a new card game to play, pull out a board game and play as if you have nothing to lose or relate it to your life right now.  Invite friends over for a potluck, make it a time when you invite singles over to your home so they are not alone.  Get creative and have fun finding ways to be with and discover more about each other.  I still learn things about my husband and we have been together for almost twenty four years.  I make a conscious effort to learn more about him because he is growing as he does new things in life and I change so I can look at things he has done forever with a new view on it.

If you think Valentine’s Day is hoowie then make sure to find time to connect with each other on a regular basis.  Love the romance then go all out with what is in your budget to do.  Keep the pressure out by communicating with each other about what your expectations for this day or romance in general. You will have a much better time with each other.

Today I wish you the kind of love your heart is meant for.  Whether you are married or not, in a relationship or not, find something today that expresses love.  Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you love you.  Go out and do something you like for you or do something for someone else.  Buy some kids valentines cards and hand them out on the street.  Anything to get you to celebrate love today.  Enjoy celebrating love today.

Marriage Confidence

What is your confidence level in marriage?

I want to address an issue around being confident in marriage.  In order to be truly confident in your marriage you must be confident in who you are.  I know that when I  was younger in my 20’s and early 30’s I will admit my self esteem and confidence in who I was had some issues at times.  After being divorced once I know my marriage confidence level had taken a pretty severe beating.

I found out that the more confidence I had in myself and my abilities in my life the more confidence I had in my marriage.  Why is this important?  I believe that when you lack confidence in your marriage you do not deal with the hard issues until they become so bad that you have to.  Or how about those really intimate conversations you want to have with your spouse but never sure when the right time is?  When you have confidence in your marriage you are willing to take the time to ask those questions without fear of judgment or shame.  You also communicate clearly on the important issues instead of sweeping them under the rug.

I know throughout the years I have struggled with some issues around confidence in talking to my husband about some important issues.  Money, bills, kids, sex as well as dreams and desires.  Some of the time my lack of confidence in certain issues created arguments and mental shut down.

I will admit that none of my children were ever planned!  At least not by me! I say God decided more than I did.  My oldest son was conceived the first time I had sex.  My second son came after a contraceptive failed.  Third son, I don’t even know what happened there and my daughter was discovered after I was three months pregnant after injuring my foot!  My husband and I never spoke about having kids when.  The only thing that we ever talked about was, we can’t have more kids because we just can not afford them.  “I want to make more money and get the business going strong before we have any more” is what he would say.  And wouldn’t you know it we still did not have the business going where we wanted it to be yet and another one was on the way!  I was always afraid to tell him I was pregnant.  Never once in my life have I experienced the joy of discovering that I was pregnant.  The joys came later but my confidence in my marriage was not where it needed to be.

Having conversations about money has always been an issue for me.  Since I grew up with my parents telling me “money doesn’t grow on trees”, “no you can’t have that”, “we can’t afford that” for a long time I had some major scarcity issues around money.  Even to this day it takes some tender loving care from my husband to talk to me about money.  It is not so much a scarcity issue anymore, it is more about a belief that is deeply ingrained in me that I choose to work on all the time.

Asking my husband for what I need in the relationship used to sound a little like nagging or whining.  Now we can sit down and have some pretty fabulous conversations about what we both need and want in the relationship.

The more you and your spouse talk about what is important in your life together the more confidence you build with each other.  If there is a subject that you are scared to talk about, start challenging yourself to be open about that topic.  Let your spouse know that this topic is difficult or emotional for you.  This is not a male/female thing by the way.  Men have just as much difficulty talking about important issues as women.  It just shows up differently!

Practice what you want to say ahead of time.  I used to write my husband letters because I could keep my emotion out of it and explain my feelings without the emotions getting in the way.

If you are having self esteem issues then work to build yourself up.  Find mentors and friends who remind you of what you want to be like.  Keep reminding yourself that you deserve a wonderful and confident marriage.  It will be up to you to build this confidence and learn to have fun with your conversations with your spouse.

Is Love Enough

When talking about marriage and being in a relationship I used to think love was all we needed to stay married.  Boy was I wrong!  My limited experience with love when young had me believing that love was easy.

My experiences over the years with love and marriage have shown me that love is not enough to sustain a relationship.  I was completely in love at eighteen.  After dating for over a year my sweetheart had stolen my heart completely.  When we got married I didn’t think I could ever love anyone more than that moment in my life.  Somewhere over the next two years I was still in love but the illusion that love was easy was gone.  We fought a lot, disagreed on how to raise our infant son and seem to have lost intimacy.  He wanted no responsibility, wanted to buy a great stereo system and accessories for his Toyota 4×4.  We were dispensable!  Love was not enough to keep us together!

Even though I loved him with all my heart, it was not enough to keep him wanting to be married to naive me!

My limited exposure to love and marriage was my parents relationship.  They met and a week later they were married.  He was in the military and we traveled all over.  Every two years we moved and lost friends.  Always having to rebuild relationship.  My parents and sisters were my only constant in my life.  I don’t remember my parents fighting with each other a lot.  My dad was gone a lot and when he was home my mom seemed to wait on him hand and foot.  He almost always was in a bad mood when he was home when it came to me.  At twelve my parents informed us that they were getting a divorce.  I was surprised.  Turns out he had an affair and he now wanted to marry her.  Years later my mom told me that even though they we married for thirteen years they were probably only together about six years because of the time he spent away with the military.  My dad is currently on his fifth marriage and my mom has been married three times.  Her last husband passed away about eighteen years ago.  My mom also told me that while she was married to my dad she did what he wanted because she did not want to be a single mother of four daughters.  She compromised who she was for him to be happy and he cheated on her as her reward.

I wanted my marriage to be different that my parents.  When I got married at eighteen, I learned that people at my wedding were placing odds on how long we would stay married.  Why did I not see the signs?

How is it other people think they know what is best for your life even though they are not the ones living it?

Back to love and it being enough.  There is still a place in my heart for my ex-husband.  If I throw that away then I would look at my son everyday and be bitter.  My son is the spitting image of my ex.  I am not bitter with my ex.  He was never capable of loving me the way I was meant to be loved.  I was not capable of loving him the way he was meant to be loved either.  I did not know what love really was yet and my perception of love was skewed by movies, books and dreams.

Love is a choice everyday to stay together.  Love is about understanding yourself enough to be able to understand your partner.  When it comes to love you can never love your spouse or relationship more than you love yourself.  To think otherwise would be deceiving yourself.  In order to truly love you must surrender what you think love looks like and create your own kind of love with each other.  Every relationship is different!  If you find you keep getting in the same kind of relationship, I would challenge you to look at you!

Love is about nurturing a friendship.  Being willing to compromise only because you care about the relationship is such a way that the compromise enhances you both.  It is never about keeping points on who did what or who did more.  Love forgives because to not forgive destroys trust and compassion.  Choosing love everyday even when you do not feel like it in the moment, builds your confidence in marriage and keeps you standing tall when you might not feel very strong.  Love and commitment help to keep you grounded when you would otherwise want to run and give up.

Marriage is not for the weak at heart and yet I believe love is meant for everyone.  It just means to love you must build strength in love and commitment like building a muscle at the gym.  Working everyday to get stronger.  Ask what is working when it is going well so when you hit a tough spot you can work together to find the solutions.  Helping each other through the challenging times and not shutting down when it gets tough.  Build those love and commitment muscles so you are prepared when you are faced with adversity.  For many years, I continued to ask my husband of almost twenty years, “Why do you love me?”.  Most of the time he would just tell me “I don’t know, I just do”.  I was insecure and wanted him to in essence tell me what he liked so I did not have to do the work to discover him.  Now in our relationship he randomly tells me why he loves me and why he likes me too.  Not because I am asking but because he feels it in his heart to share.  A much more desirable outcome for me.

Love is not enough!  It is enough to get started but not enough to sustain you through the tough times.  Honor, respect, compassion, forgiveness, compromise and commitment are some of the many qualities needed in all relationships to sustain you through the tough spots.  Keeping your heart open and willing to learn more will be the tools you need to stay committed.  Allowing yourself to love and be loved is a great place to be.  And remember there is so much more to marriage and commitment.

Are You On The Support Team

Throughout the years in marriage my husband and I have come to terms that what is important to one of us may not be as important to the other.

As a young wife I thought I was suppose to conform to what my husband wanted.  If he wanted to go see a movie and I didn’t want to see it we both went anyway.  He wanted to go camping, dirt bike riding, party at a friends or what ever he wanted to do.  I tagged along and survived my way through it.

I thought this was what I was meant to do to support my husband.

I have discovered over the years that I can support my husband and be on his team by just saying a few simple words.  “Go ahead babe and have a nice time.”  I do not have to attend every event that he wants to and I can go out and have fun without him too.  If I do not want to go to the “shootem up” style movie, or he does not want to go to the “chick flick” with me then it does not take away from our marriage.  It actually enhances the honesty we have with each other.

I am on his support team.  I support him in doing the things that he likes and I do not have to be there.  I can also prepare items for a potluck party with the friends and family without having to attend.  He can go with my blessing and support and he returns to me in a good mood and I am too.  My energy is not drained by being around others that want to party a certain way and I do not have images in my head from movies I did not want to see.

Marriage is hard enough without having to think I have to be with my husband every second.  We are both different and have different interests.  I have to trust in him to what is right while we are not together.  He has to trust me to not dishonor our marriage when we are not together.  We have that trust with each other.

Funny Story:  2002 Winter Olympics came to Utah.

My husband went there to work as security for the Olympics.  He was going to be gone for thirty days.  A whole month without him.  I was at the office working about a week into his time away and had been hearing a few rumors.  “They are getting a divorce”  “that is just the story, he really left her”.  One of my staff had the guts to ask me the question “Did Lawrence leave you?” I replied “yes but he will be crawling back to me in about a month”  she laughed at me and then I cleared up the rumors. I told my honey about the call on the phone later that night and we had a great laugh.

Many spouses have claimed that they would not let their spouse leave for that long.  What is this let stuff?  We can not hold our spouses back from what they are meant to do.  Military spouses have experienced this throughout the decades.  I was raised as a military brat and I married a Marine!  If you can not trust your spouse to be away from you then you have to check in with your trust issues.  If you are dealing with past hurts then deal with them.  Do not punish your spouse for what someone else did.  Be a part of their support team.  When we support our spouses they are much happier in the long run.

If your spouse has cheated on you then get support so you can get past it.  You want the opportunity to be able to trust and be happy in your relationship.  Find a way to work through it because you deserve to be happy too.

Being a part of your spouses support team means that you offer your blessing to what ever will honor the relationship.  Find out what it is that he needs support around.  “Honey what do you need from me to have a good time?”  I am not saying that I don’t go and do some things that he wants to do that I don’t want to do.  I am saying that I have a choice and so does he.  Many times we will do the things with each other because they are new.  Doesn’t mean I will do them twice but I am willing to try new things with my husband and them make a choice after I have tried it once.  We have a lot of adventures together and we have time apart and we enjoy both.  Be supportive and loving.  Ask your spouse what support looks like and try new things too.

PS: Make sure you let your spouse know how they can be part of your support team.  Many times they just do not know what support looks like for you.  Have the courage to ask for what you want and to speak up if you do not like something.